University of Oklahoma Diversity Officer Resigns, Claims He Was Forced Out

Jabar Shumate, former vice president of the Office of University Community at the University of Oklahoma (OU), says he was forced to resign from his position on July 23, following charges by the administration that he misused university assets. At a news conference on July 25, he said that he was pushed out of the university for his opposition to the potential return of a fraternity that had been kicked off campus in 2015 after some of its members were caught on camera chanting racial slurs.

Shumate’s position, as well as the Office of University Community, was created by OU’s former president David L. Boren in the wake of that incident, which involved the OU chapter of Sigma Alpha Epilson (SAE). Shumate is a former member of the Oklahoma state legislature and himself an alumnus of the university.

On July 26, in response to media inquiries, OU released more details about allegations that Shumate illegally used a 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe assigned to him for work-related travel. According to an internal audit, he had parked the school-assigned vehicle at his home 124 times between July 2017 and March 2018, used it for personal trips, and submitted false travel-expense claims.

Shumate responded by saying that no one told him he was using the car illegally and claims he was never shown the results of the audit. Instead, he argues that his position is being cut to save university officials embarrassment; he claims that his office, part of which had been relocated to the SAE frat house, had been asked to clear out so that the fraternity could move back in.

University officials have denied that SAE is planning a return to campus but have conceded that it’s possible the chapter may do so in the future and, if so, would likely return to its original residence. SAE’s national office issued a written statement to The Chronicle of Higher Educationsaying that there is no current timeline regarding the chapter’s return to OU.

Shumate’s departure occurred three weeks after James L. Gallogly, a former oil executive and major university donor, took over as president of OU. The day Gallogly assumed the presidency, six top administrators were fired, and according to Shumate, he was demoted to reporting to the provost instead of the president.